#117: How To Deal With Abusive Customers [Podcast]

There's a saying: “The customer is always right.” But what about customers who are abusive, dishonest, and bullying? Are they always right? I think not. And you must protect yourself and your staff from these bullies.

Furious woman

In this week's episode, I share 7 tips for handling abusive or “problem” customers.


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Tip Of The Week 

I really like a habit tracking app called Habit List. From their website: “Habit List includes everything you need to reach your goals, wrapped in a beautiful and intuitive interface. It motivates you, helps you stay focused, and keeps you on track. It’s for all the little things that make a big difference.” I like that you can track streaks, be reminded what is due today, and track your trends.

Spiritual Foundations

Our job as Christians is not to hide out in the church building – it's to launch out into the world.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Feature Segment: How To Deal With Abusive Customers

Sometimes customers are dishonest, abusive, and even psychopathic bullies. You need to protect yourself and your staff from these people. Here are 7 tips for dealing with abusive customers.

  1. Have clear policies in place regarding the most common questions your customers may have.
  2. Establish a procedure for processing feedback.
  3. Respond quickly and decisively.
  4. Identify bullies quickly, and disengage politely and quickly.
  5. Know when to fire a customer, and do it sooner rather than later.
  6. Realize that sometimes the relationship is just not right, and end it.
  7. Never engage in a public debate with a customer.

By the way, not all customer complaints are bullying or abusive. Most complaints are poorly communicated requests. When you make a mistake, admit it and correct it immediately.

As hard as it may be, don't let the crazy antics of a few troublemakers distort your perception of your customers, or yourself. If you get 99% positive feedback, and 1% irrational criticism, recognize that the problem is likely not on your end.

What To Do Now

Here are some steps you can take to put this week's episode content to work for you:

  1. Ask yourself how, as a follower of Christ, you can exert more influence for his Kingdom in your so-called ordinary life.
  2. Review the list of actions for dealing with abusive customers, and start putting this into place immediately.
  3. Review your customer records and ask yourself if there are a few stinkers you need to get rid of.

Get The Transcript

Get the transcript for this show by clicking here. Transcripts provided by SuccessTranscripts – a great solution if you need your podcast, sermon, speech, or other audio transcribed.

Question: Have you ever had to deal with a “crazy customer”? How did you handle it? (NO NAMES, PLEASE!) Click here to leave your comments.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Great podcast! When I was more in the business world, at least you had the option of ending the relationship one way or the other. When I started working in the church, there might be one or two “crazies”, but they don’t go away. That can be awkward. One thing I never do is engage in disputes or negative communication through e-mail.

    • That’s a GREAT point Rob. Email is the WRONG place to have those communications!

  • Ray, great episode as always. I had a client once whom I called “our most difficult client ever”. Like you, 99.999 percent of our clients and customers are happy and satisfied. But this one always nitpicked everything, complained about many things, and prided herself on being incredibly demanding. But she kept coming back. And she kept spending money.

    I finally realized that although she put up a less-than-pollyanna front, her return business meant we passed her test (even though she continued to be demanding). And I figured if we could pass HER test, we must be doing a lot of things right.

    I also notice that when she was around, we got BETTER. Mostly because we were trying to beat her at her own game, ha ha, but hey, better is better. I ended up considering her a true gift to my company. She challenged us, pushed us, and kept us from getting lazy.

    But the key for us was that I shared this thinking with my team so they would adopt the same attitude that I had. Sure, we had a few laughs about her crazy antics, but we didn’t complain about her behind her back (ok, maybe a little).

    Sometimes the difficult ones are the ones you need. That said, I’m glad we don’t have one of those right now!

    • Those are great points Mark – thanks for sharing that!

  • I felt the same way about Walking Dead, but thought I was weird. Glad to know someone else is on the same wavelength.